HACAP Operation BackPack helps local families

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HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) is hoping to help in the fight against childhood hunger with their Operation BackPack (OBP) program.

"It's a way to ensure we nourish our community," Linda Gorkow, HACAP Food Reservoir Director said.

Gorkow says about one in seven elementary school age children is at risk of going hungry.

"In the heartland, you wouldn't think that would be the case. However, the face of hunger is present in our community and it's up to us to help those in need," Gorkow said.

On September 14, Hunger Action Day, volunteers started their day off early at a HACAP office to pack backpacks.

Kate Hinz, a freshman at Linn-Mar High School said she had been up since 3 a.m.

Hinz said helping with the program doesn’t just help the children who need food.

“It’s really nice to help those people, help feed them so that we can be a better community too,” Hinz said.

With the help of schools, counselors, community partners and volunteers, Gorkow said HACAP is able to offer the program.

Gorkow said HACAP started OBP to make sure school isn't the only setting a student can have proper nutrition.

Each Friday the schools send a backpack from HACAP filled with non-perishable foods home to students in need. The food can be eaten on weekends or school holidays.

Throughout the 2017-18 school year, over 95,000 backpacks will be distributed to 77 schools in seven different counties.

HACAP will be hosting food drives for the backpacks at all local Walmart stores on September 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.